Sometimes consulting the Google isn’t enough and my top advice for anyone looking to learn a new skill or to even hone their current ability in anything is to pick up a book about it. The non-fiction market is huge and also packed with some very handy guides about the intricacies of authoring and publishing.
This is my 600th Blog post and it is dedicated to showcasing the best self-help books I’ve read over the years, from the one that inspired this blog to Amazon algorithm optimization all the way to a part memoir packed with awesome practical writing tips; these are essential self-help book recommendations for authors…
‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’ – Stephen King
Okay, were starting with a relatively high bar and even for those who say they have never read anything by possibly America’s greatest storyteller (near enough everyone it seems) you’ll find something worthwhile in this book. Even though it’s relatively short for a Stephen King title this memoir takes us through his early days all the way to finding success as an author. We even hear about his near fatal accident – thank the Lord he survived! The focus is on his journey while every so often giving hints and tips throughout – some are even basic practicalities like where you should situate a writing desk! What I enjoyed the most about this book is the clear admiration King has for the craft and writing style while also mentioning other authors. For anyone at any level in writing this book is essential trust me!
‘How to Market a Book: Overperform in a Crowded Market’ by Ricardo Fayet
If you want to seriously earn money in authoring then this is the guide for you. It literally shows you the calculations on how you can convert a hobby into a potential career through the right marketing channels. Recently reviewed on here and for Reedsy Discovery this book is basically an extensive extension of Reedsy’s guides and blog posts that dive into everything you need to know about selling books and where to do it. From ‘going wide’ to Amazon chart optimization all the way to having readers find you. This recent release is essential if you are serious about writing as a career.
‘Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing’ By Catherine Ryan Howard
There aren’t many that know the Hall of Information blog was inspired by this book which I read way back in 2014. After a hugely successful career as an indie author, Catherine Ryan Howard has sort of become the benchmark for me in terms of success. She even secured a six figure publishing deal and the wonderful thing is her career started as an indie author. ‘Self ‘Printed’ is now into it’s third edition and because of the wonderful advice within that led me here it deserves a mention! You’ll find specific guides on how to format and publish books via Amazon all the way to selling, of course this is accompanied by a fun style of delivery – just read the blurb and you’ll know. To me it’s essential and something I even go back to every so often.
‘Amazon Keywords for Books: How to Use Keywords for Better Discovery on Amazon’ by Dale L. Roberts
Another Reedsy Discovery find and it’s an incredible eye opening resource for those published via Amazon – most reading this are and this book homes in on the power of Amazon’s search bar/key word optimization. This is just the tip of a big iceberg that deep dives into how the world’s biggest book retailer functions. The easy to understand writing style explains Amazon and that finding readers is just like having a conversation with an old friend you’ve got a lot in common with – trust me, Dale explains it way better… My verdict after reading this one is that I’m not using Amazon correctly and the knowledge I gained was essential and applied straight away! Here’s my review.
The wonderful thing about the writing industry is that no matter what level you are there will always be someone looking to support you. All of the authors above do just that and so if you are in doubt, you are never far away from a fellow scholar looking to share some much needed clarity and advice.
And so that wraps up my essential list of self-help books for Authors. If you’re looking for some further reading and a few more author resources then check out my own section dedicated to such. Let me know in the comments if you have any self-help book rec’s for authors.
It might be a tad indulgent to include my own title in this post but I also have a self help book for authors and bloggers coming this May.
It might be a sore spot but here it’s okay to talk about lack of book sales. They never told us we’d have to put in a lot of effort to market our own… While we’re all too busy wrapped up in thinking we achieved something by reaching the end we’ve actually only pulled up to the starting line… I’ll retract part of that statement and say writing and finishing a book is a phenomenal achievement but nobody forewarned me that selling it would be a pain in the ass. This post is going to explore what authors can do to fight back from the struggle to sell their work.
Sales don’t just magically appear for an author and so this post will explore what can be done to get them by listing the things we should have done or should be doing. While saying ‘buy my book’ tends to be frowned upon we’re gonna look at how you can still say that but in disguised form. Let’s dive in…
Things you can do Before Release
Let’s face it, fail to prepare and prepare to fail because most of the marketing work that goes into selling books normally takes place prior to release, hindsight eh? We could all argue otherwise but let’s agree that if we did it again for the first time, things would hopefully be better; from generating the initial buzz to ramping up all your social media efforts all the way to the nuts and bolts of putting a book together; all of this is supposed to take place prior to release. There are so many reasons why a book doesn’t sell because the initial ground work wasn’t effective enough. Most of my book promotion efforts revolve around amplifying my reach so people notice my work but if an extensive amount of effort is not put in before publication then that book might be doomed from then on to never sell. So what can you do before release to make sure it does sell? These things, some of which might appear obvious but are essential in my eyes:
Announce the project as early as you can – even during drafting you should have a book title and genre so talk about it. Tell your social media followers, create a blog post, create an email newsletter to send to folks on your email list – if you haven’t got one of these then get one. Make an early trailer or even a mock-up book cover. Tell your followers this book is coming.
Up your social media game on all fronts – don’t just talk about your work, engage and get that following higher. My top advice when it comes to selling books is to sell yourself by being present online. Be social and post stuff that aims to inform, inspire, engage and help others – this might be more of a long term thing but go for it for the sake of that book!
Review books in a similar genre – start making your presence known in that genre by supporting it. Supporting fellow authors is a guaranteed way of getting noticed trust me. Some authors might even return the favour.
Reach out to BETA readers and then ARC readers who will leave early reviews upon release – people are the power when it comes to books. If they are true supporters they’ll spread the word through their own social media reach. Perhaps ask a higher profile author who writes in the same genre to take a look and offer to have their review quote on the cover. This one might take some socialising and the debut author might struggle but having folks in your corner will help.
Make sure your book has a good basic anatomy – nothing sells books more than a professional looking cover and an enticing blurb. Do your best to get these as awesome as possible. When you’ve got the final book cover it would also be a good idea to create a book banner to share on social media and pin to the top of your profile. I made the book banner below, pretty nifty right?
Set up a pre order, a price promotion and self promote – even if this is your debut novel I would suggest setting up a pre order for the e version via Amazon. Least this way you’ll already have an Amazon page and then you can share that link. You’ll be surprised at the folks who come out of the woodwork to support and pre order that book. You can even set up that pre order months before release. As an incentive, perhaps set the price for the pre order lower than what it will be after release and remember to tell your social media following about it.
Organise some advertising – there are book promo sites out there that will have a specific new book release package. This is worth exploring to enhance your reach. Here’s my list of promo sites.
Organise the official release – create a Facebook event for the launch day of your book and make a spectacle of the date. Invite friends and potential readers. Schedule a blog post on the day which leads into…
Blog about it – the pre release days of a book make for some great material to document via a blog. Talk about the story, the setting, the characters, share the blurb and share anything else relevant.
Promote other books on your back list – this only applies to those with other books but it’s important to bring them into play. Run a price promotion and mention you have another work coming in that promo.
Get yourself out there – there are plenty of places to submit guest posts and reviews to that might have a higher reach or following than you. This blog boasts a 700+ following and is looking for guest book reviews and articles.
Contact local press – its always worth reaching out to local press about your book because you never know if they are looking for some news to feature on a slow week. Is your work unique or does it have an interesting back story – local press love that sort of thing.
That’s 12 things an author can do prior to release to generate sales and I guarantee there’s probably a lot more. Now hindsight is a wonderful thing and all but what about those with books already out there? What can we do to sell our already published works?
Things you can do After Release
Run a promo or sale – like any other product out there books can benefit from being discounted or even free. You can do this any time after release to get some sales. Combine this discount or even free promo with some advertising and things might start to turn around. Reaching out to the right higher profile book promo site might result in your lucky day.
Let readers find you – this is a longer term strategy but just going about your usual business of blogging and supporting fellow authors will eventually get you noticed in a positive light. I’m saying this because it happened to me. After deciding to offer indie book reviews on this blog back in 2018 my views have continually improved and so did my sales.
Write more books – another long term one but having more books on your shelf equal more choice for potential readers. If someone liked one of your works they will at least attempt to find out if there are any more. I’ve released 6 books in 5 years and experienced a gradual increase in sales over that time. Consistency is key.
Try not to worry so much – Good things take time and it might actually be a constant battle to find sales. You might never be fully satisfied so don’t let it get to you. Back when I had even 4 books released there were some months when I sold nothing and now after so many years and more releases I sell on average a book every 5 or so days. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was your legacy…
Consider lowering the price permanently – I’ve never sold an e book for more than $2.99 so maybe consider aiming for lower than that. If your an indie I’m pretty sure you don’t rely on book sales for income so consider keeping your e books at 99 cents – this normally guarantees a few sales.
Reach out to some book bloggers for a few reviews – the more ratings a book has the more chance it has of selling and most book bloggers will accept a free e copy in exchange for a review.
Blog about it – you can still blog about your work long after it has been released. Perhaps an in depth post exploring 5 reasons why someone should read it or even a ‘making of’ post. Talk about it and be honest, readers are drawn to that.
Social media – every now and then I will share the link and cover art via twitter. It’s important to remind your following what you’ve written and what is available. On twitter those shameless self promo posts are good for visibility, especially on the weekends.
Read an excerpt out loud – go live on your social media and read a passage or excerpt of your work. Show your beautiful face and a passion for that work you created.
You’ll notice the list of methods after release is smaller because the preparation is way more important but that doesn’t deny the fact after release methods are any less important or effective. It is perceived that the first 30 days of a book’s release are the most important for future sales but I’d beg to differ especially if you can achieve a good promotional run. It took three years for my third book to gain any kind of traction along with my 4th. It’s great to do as much preparation as possible but that doesn’t doom a book for eternity because in marketing and book sales anything can happen.
There is also another often overlooked resource and that’s to ask your peers. The writing community is full of different folks on different parts of their journey and they have valuable experience. I put the question out on Twitter and so here’s some wisdom from those who have sold:
The best way to figure out sales and marketing is research. Saying your no good at marketing is old and cliché. If you can write a book and tell and effective story then you can sell it, The Google is also there for you and so am I. Check out my Resources section for plenty of pointers on all things book selling, marketing and wider social media. I’ve got a guide book coming soon which is what this post was inspired by.
I hope you enjoyed this rather in depth look at why our books aren’t selling and if you have any other methods not mentioned then please hit me up in the comments! If you just want to shout and vent about not selling books, that’s welcome also!
As I’m writing Deification’s sequel, I’m fully aware of my “head-hopping”, but here’s the thing— I like it.
I write omniscient third-person narratives which means they see everything everyone is doing in a scene. Why shouldn’t they also see what everyone in the scene is feeling? This is how I write. I’m not changing it. It makes sense to me (even as someone with a BA in English), and writing is art. It shouldn’t be bound by what others expect to deem “correct”. It should come from the artists exactly as it’s meant to. If that style isn’t for you, then don’t pick up books written in it. But don’t be shitty and act superior.
Literary fiction explores characters and their minds, and I’m not going to neglect a character and his thoughts and feelings simply because I’ve just described his scene-partner’s thoughts and feelings. This is how a conversation…
Well that was a ride… and I’m partially still on the rollercoaster of emotion, sales and everything else that comes with having your largely unknown book thrust into the hands of the mainstream… this is my reflection, review and hopefully knowledge passing-on post about how my Featured Deal with Bookbub went. Let’s dive in…
For those who just want to know the results, scroll down. For the finer detail start here…
Firstly who are Bookbub? In a sentence-ish; they are a big time distribution site that advertises books to a huge following with a somewhat promise of actual return on investment – they are hard to get in with, very hard and their featured deal is considered the Holy Grail of promotions. You can read more about them here in my post explaining how I got a featured deal… Authors can sign up to Bookbub, create a profile and then list their books. People can even leave reviews for them…
Who am I? Well for those who have arrived on this blog’s shores for the first time, hello, I’m Lee, I’m from the UK and I am an indie author of 6 books so far. I’m relatively unknown although I’ve been around for a few years now, my books have a moderate to small amount of reviews – I’m a small time scrappy underdog of an author trying to get the world to read my stuff and I don’t give up… In terms of book sales, I’ve sold around 1000 since 2016 through my various promotional efforts. I’m nowhere near earning a living from this but one can dream right?
Who were bookbub going to Feature from my backlist? My super hero comedy novella ‘The Teleporter’.
After somehow agreeing to advertise my book, Bookbub agreed to feature it on Saturday the 6th of February in all their major markets. The US, UK, Canada, Australia and India. It would be advertised as Free to download and so I set the price to zero for that day. Because I have other books available I set them to 99 cents a piece also…
Top Book Promo tip: A Free book promo is a great way to get a lot of downloads. It’s a please all method that many folks will grab. Personally I tend to keep my free promo day’s few and far between – once every quarter is probably enough and even then for me it will be a different title every time.
I’ve always had a rather funny relationship with Lady Luck. On the day of the promotion I was struck down with a rather bad spell of food poisoning. Even in my reduced state I managed to do some tweeting and social media-ing but things were not great for me, we’ll go into what I did to promote the deal below, however in terms of book promotional efforts let me refer you to the graphic…
I think we can all agree 10,000 plus downloads in one day for a small time nobody like me is pretty damn incredible. Now I know it was free but normally my reach for a promo like this is 10% of that. Damn, that’s a lot of downloads! The free downloads trickled into the next day with 580 more by the time the price went back up to 99 cents.
If my maths is correct and if 8000 of these readers actually read The Teleporter fully then I am set to make about 3 Grand from page reads…
Final Free Download count: 10,926
Due to my state of health I couldn’t properly track chart positioning’s during the day of the promo but it went to #1 in multiple territories. But that’s not all. For the day I set the price of my other books all to 99 cents or equivalent and they sold!
As you can see the numbers aren’t huge but every book I have available sold for actual money and so here comes another top tip:When promoting a book for free make sure you set your other works to a discount – this will near enough guarantee a little interest. Of course this only applies if you have other titles, if not grab that pen and get writing more books!
Here are the final figures of everything I sold after a week:
It’s quite funny that I only sold 1 paperback out of 10,000 sales. Thanks to whoever bought it, you are literally 1 in 10,000! Basically every sales record was smashed during this run with sales happening for a record 9 consecutive days after and so that brings us to…
Now the immediate results were awesome but the real result of any book and it’s promotion is best measured over time. Boy this is where the real rollercoaster began…
Literally on the day of the promo KENP page reads shot up. From an average of 20-50 page reads a day to hundreds, the 10,000 readers had began their journey but that’s not all. Now The Teleporter was in front of newer eyes it began to sell even after it was free. Every day after the promo for a week it sold.
This is where a free promo or any promo will pay off because the exposure has pushed the book a lot further up the charts in front of new eyes. And then after a few days came the crowning moment…
The orange label of destiny found itself attached to my scrappy little underdog of a book. The Teleporter had become a best seller and made me, a best selling author… while my food poisoning had subsided and I was seemingly on cloud 9, things weren’t all celebratory…
Lessons learned the hard way….
Wholeheartedly, if I were to do Featured Deal again, I would. The results above you can see have turned a corner for my authoring career but and although I am relatively thick skinned there came a point where reviews started coming in and not all of them were positive. In fact the rating across the board for The Teleporter has dropped a little. It appears only the folks who didn’t like it are leaving reviews…
Lesson: When you present the mainstream with a free book they will download it no matter their taste. They see the price first and perhaps nothing else. Some of these folks might not like what they read and they will express that in sometimes scathing, hurtful reviews. This started to unfold by day 4 and it’s still unfolding, although there’s were so many more positive reviews, the negatives are the one’s we dwell on… As an author I know the reality of reviews, I am also an adult but sometimes things folks say can hurt. That is probably the one warning or take away I want anyone else to have from this: the more your work is exposed to the masses, the higher chance you’ll find someone who doesn’t like it. That’s okay and it’s normal because the whole literary industry is built upon it’s favourite word; subjective. Those who have left scathing reviews don’t really provide me with any valuable feedback so it’s kind of pointless. Either way it’s also quite hilarious to see people react in such a way for a comedy. It kind of makes me want to write a sequel just to get back at them.
Comedy is probably the most subjective genre out there, the gulf of different reviews has proven that. The highs have been high and the lows have been scathing – people really will tell you if they didn’t like a comedy… combine that with it being free and the emotion exploded. My author friend Karl on Twitter explained it way better than me..
Like most things in life we skim over the bad and embrace the good, and so that’s what I will do now…
The 2nd Aftermath…
I’ve never received so many new reviews in such short time. The amount of ratings The Teleporter had was below 20 and now it’s growing, good or bad, a rating is a rating. Here’s a couple of the better one’s…
But that’s not all because the aftermath kept on aftermathing…
By day 9 The Teleporter had crossed over 50 ratings in my home territory of the UK – just another awesome achievement. Ratings above all are proof of readership.
Factors for Success
I’ve explained everything the best I can but for anyone looking to successfully promote a book via Bookbub or not, this is the section for you because now I shall delve into what I did and why it worked… Some of this stuff might feel like a repeat but this is what you need to successfully promote your book:
Pro cover art work and banners to boot: Selling books starts with the visuals and people do judge them by their covers. I have invested good money in my cover art work and it looks great. Design for Writers deserve the credit for this but you need a pro looking cover to sell books! Combine that with a shiny banner and you are set.
A badass social media game: Due to my wonderful engaged following on Twitter I am currently killing it with tweets regularly being liked by hundreds of folks. Things have really stepped up recently and so that has to be taken into account for the success of this promo!
Distribution: The greatest struggle an author faces is making the world aware of their works. What did I do to spread that awareness? Of course Bookbub helped but I did these things also:
Used my mailing list: I have an email list of 80 or so readers. On the day I sent them an email with the above banner and information on where to buy my other discounted books.
Utilised that social media following: On the day I put out a blog post, put out a post on Facebook and plastered the link all over twitter to over 6000 followers. Using the right hashtags can increase visibility big time. In particular I took advantage of the #shamelessselfpromo movement that happens over on twitter at the weekend. My tweet is below:
Took advantage of having a backlist: The best way to sell books is to write more and have more available. Not only did folks download The Teleporter for free but they bought the others that were discounted.
I didn’t just rely on Bookbub: Okay Bookbub’s reach is awesome but I really wanted to make sure I got the most out of this promotion so I also advertised The Teleporter on a range of other promotional sites. Some were paid and others were free. They were:
E Reader News Today
Indie Book of the Day
Armadillo E books
Timing: This is a huge factor for success of a book promo. Without looking at genre and the time of year because that’s a thing, The Teleporter was available on a Saturday which is normally a busy day for internet traffic.
The Teleporter is a niche genre: Bookbub are incredibly hard to get in with. Authors try for years to convince them and it’s perceived your book needs to be award winning and highly reviewed to have any chance. My book is neither, while it was accepted by them a few years back it’s a bit of a wildcard but the humour genre has a small catchment rate – by that I mean it’s not like the thousands of crime thrillers that get rejected each day because nothing against crime thrillers but it’s a popular mainstream genre compared to humour, the queue is longer – The Teleporter stands out in genre which is probably one of the main reasons it got chosen. Plus it’s good, fu***ng good and seeing as this is the second Bookbub featured it, they must like it also.
Reviews/ratings: Although the amount of reviews the book now has is much bigger, beforehand it was 20ish which means it’s had some readership and those reviews were from the year of release all the way to recently. Recent and old reviews together show a longevity of readership.
Investment of money: Bookbub charged me over $200 for this featured deal and if you are serious about promoting books you need to invest serious money.
If I can get myself a Bookbub featured deal and 10,000 plus downloads then you certainly can and everything above is proof of that. Never before has my authoring profile been thrown in front of so much exposure and for that I am grateful above everything else. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotion and as I take a deep sighing breath of satisfaction, to me it was worth it. From the initial explosion of sales to the aftermath and even lessons learned and then the second aftermath, what a ride. This was my most important promotion moment as an author and it will hopefully be a huge turning point. Only time will tell.
The wonderful thing about this promotion is that it has proved indie authors who have a platform can also be given a voice and be successful. This featured deal was a victory for all of us indies and I’m incredibly proud of how it went. The best outcome is the fact my soon to be published authoring and blogging guide book had one section left blank to be written, it was a section that was going to explain my most recent book promotion efforts. Guess I better get writing!
As an author you probably don’t have to go far from the Google to find out what Bookbub is. For those not in the know, Bookbub is referred to as the ‘holy grail’ of book promotion sites and even more so for readers because it’s probably the most prestigious book connector site out there. And what’s even better is that they near enough guran-damn-tee returns on their investments…
From very early in my indie author career I tried and tried to land a promotion deal with them. Those lucky enough to land a deal report of a good amount of sales and even returns on the investment of a Bookbub ‘featured deal’ promo. Just looking at some of the ‘requirements’ for acceptance is pretty damn intimidating, with some even boasting you need 50 plus reviews, but…
A new blog series emerges, out of the unknown void of creativity where I sometimes have ideas…
Let’s talk about writing. You’re probably not going far and neither am I.
So while I’m here and you are (hopefully) let’s use this time to reflect on writing, after all it’s what most of us blogger types do.
Personally there is no full proof blue print to teach someone to write. You have to find that within yourself but I can sure as hell talk about it and hopefully pass on some ‘wisdom’ about the craft. If you tuned in to Twitter recently you may have seen my recent thread that 4 people probably read all about that first draft.
It’s easier and relatable to think of writing in a way that everyone can. So for this post, we are going to use the analogy of cooking to represent writing that first…
Good things take time. Really worthwhile things take a long time and you might have seen me singing my own praises about getting five thousand twitter followers so I figured now would be a good time to reflect and pass on some helpful information.
How did I get there? Well it wasn’t easy. From deleting the app two years ago to now. I’ve had an eventful relationship with the platform I still don’t fully understand but there are some fundamental basics I implemented which will help anyone reach some level of social media success.
This post takes direct inspiration from my upcoming self help guide book which is set to drop this year. I’ve broken this guide down into three sections which go hand in hand. The Why’s, The Basics and the Advanced Tweet Machine Methods. I will also cover some fixes for those already on Twitter who aren’t getting any engagement.Now there are plenty of folks I know who have way bigger followings than me, and that’s cool, but this guide is designed for hopefully anyone.
Exploring motive before anything else will ultimately give you something to aim for, much like any character in a book. Why are they there? What do they want to do? Ask yourself this: What do you want to achieve on twitter and why?
In my case, and the short answer; I am on Twitter to promote my efforts as an author and blogger while also learning from those doing the same.
The long answer; it’s a huge opportunity to connect with near enough everyone. Predominantly I sell my work online, about 95% of my book sales come from online sources so I need to be there for that. It’s also a wonderful way to find new books that I can review.
In your case, this may differ depending on what you want to achieve. Perhaps you are a blogger who specialises in photography, or someone interested in nature; there is a crowd for near enough all interests on the tweet machine. You wan an audience right? And connecting with others will get you there. It’s both a social and a promotional opportunity. Use it to find your crowd – we’ll go into that with more detail below.
From experience you need the basics for people to start following you regularly on Twitter. In order to get more followers you need engagement.
Engagement is basically having a voice that folks can easily hear. There is no overnight solution to more engagement but there are ways to increase it over time. My philosophy is and always will be this:
To give yourself the best possible chance at Twitter success you need to be honest, friendly and decent.
But that’s just conducting yourself professionally, most people are cool but what else can you do? Well, you need:
A real profile picture of yourself.Trust me other humans like to see other humans…
A friendly bio that describes who you are, what you do. The more inviting, fun and friendly the better.
A pinned Tweet – a tweet you can put at the top of your profile that relays what you are currently doing in life, what’s coming soon or even a link to your book /blog/ content.
To engage with others by commenting, help, offer advice, be friendly, supportive and decent – trust me most twitter types are drawn to honesty. Engage with folks all the time.
ToFollow those who follow you.
Unfollow those who no longer follow you.
Follow those who interest you.
If you follow the above basics you will find some level of success and gradual growth. All of these basics are aimed at getting more engagement or at least the right kind.
For absolute beginners I strongly suggest your tweets include relevant hashtags to what you are interested in. Introduce yourself and explore those hashtags, comment on other folks posts who use them. Be social.
Things not working – a few fixes
I have opted to put this section in here because this tutorial is designed for all and you might already be on the tweet machine and experiencing little or no growth/engagement. You need engagement for growth and growth for engagement but why are your tweets feeling invisible?
If your tweets aren’t getting much attention perhaps it’s time to consider what you are posting. Is it relevant or even interesting? Is it heavily opinionated or political? Is it ‘spicy’ or angry? Are you an author who just constantly shares the link to their own work? This is also relevant to what you are saying in the comments of other folks tweets. Regularly I see a user say something that can appear aggressive or forward – although this might not have been the intention it’s easy to be misunderstood in a tweet. I very much HATE WHEN PEOPLE CAPITALISE things or tell me what to do. The whole tough love/truth thing will annoy me also. Try and keep things light and friendly.
My tip would be to scroll back down your feed and look at the last tweet you put out which got some good engagement. Do more of that and less of the tweets that don’t get any attention. Easier said than done but it works trust me.
Things not working can also be related to consistency, if you post sporadically every few days at random times then it’s likely your audience won’t see it. Those with a lower following, you folks risk being forgotten if you don’t post regularly. Consistency is key.
Engaging with others more will also spread your visibility across the platform, remember it’s social media, if you see a tweet that compels you to make comment then follow the basic philopshy above and go for it!
Let’s say anything over a thousand followers means you’re serious about this. Now you need to step things up while also raking in more followers because in theory the higher volume of followers you have the easier it is to get more. It me took several years to get a thousand, but way less time to get double that.
So what advanced methods did I use to get there? While the trends constantly changed, I did these things:
Posted regularly, normally more than 3 times a day.
Figured out when the majority of my audience were online. In my case I have an audience that is mainly Europe or USA based so I post in the morning for the folks in my time zone then wait until later on for the USA folks
Treated it like a job.
Did everything I possibly could to get more engagement by tweeting relevant, fun and engaging posts every time. Post memes, post fun stuff, ask questions, run polls, share reviews of books you’ve read, so many possibilities …
Kept following the basics while also using relevant hashtags.
Took part in the newest or relevant following fads – writers lifts, shameless self promos and other follow trains – they work trust me but not every day or week…
Kept it fun and light. I tend to stay away from heavy politics and opinion based stuff.
Kept away from negativity and toxic stuff which can easily be found just under the surface.
It’s called social media for a reason, to be social and the more you embrace that concept the better. Following some of the advice above will indeed help. If you have any other advice then please do leave it in the comments below.
There will be a stack of social media tutorial things in my upcoming book, until then for more blogging and authoring stuff do check out my resources section…
Never did I think I’d know something well enough to see through it and realise there’s a culture that needs changing.Of course what I think like anyone else is just an opinion and not fact, remember that, but after many years of being published I’ve made an observation of something that I believe needs to be changed. Whether it be through lack of awareness or even lack of knowledge, all the way to ignorance, there is a huge step missing in the culture of modern day self publishing.
Nowanyone who enters any arena and achieves an eventual level of expertise might inadvertently change the culture just by enduring that journey. Some changes can be natural like evolution – a change nobody see’s but then some changes need a little encouragement.
Right now we are in a boom period for publishing, especially of the do it yourself persuasion. No longer are the gate keepers controlling content. The online world that has evolved and evolved again is driven by content and most probably these big time publishers and literary agents cannot keep up with starry-eyed story tellers who are pumping out thousands of books, their dreams, their visions brought to life before their eyes. Some are pure treasure and probably good enough for any pro publishers interest. Some might not be but are still a good effort anyway and contribute to the literary industry no matter. No longer are authors waiting to hear back from agents leaving them in limbo or having their work destined for the slush pile, in effect that slush pile is now on Amazon and it’s fighting back – it’s great, it’s richly diverse and it’s there for anyone.
There just seems to be selfless disregard for the industry so many of these published authors are entering, and I’m not putting labels on any particular group of authors but every day I see it, authors old and new blindly sharing the link, sharing the link, sharing the link and then getting down because nobody bought the book and let alone reviewed it. The cycle just repeats. That definition of madness comes to mind.
This culture of over self promotion and nothing else is something I have an ambition to address. Yes we all need to get our stuff out there but there is other stuff out there too and authors can promote themselves by supporting others. I choose not to address this because I am an activist, not because I am some kind of wannabe hero or do I even want to stir a debate, fuck debates online. I want this to change because in the past two and half years I have embraced and supported fellow authors probably more than I have supported myself, and the reward – more than any success I had before that time. It’s done way more good for me that I could possibly describe and I want that good to happen to others!
Just how do these authors think they are going to sell their own book if they don’t support books themselves? That whole being an island thing just goes round like a broken record. Authors looking for that quick fix to sell – there isn’t one. All they constantly want is reviews and sales – this is a just a marathon that never ends because no author will ever be satisfied with the amount of sales and reviews they get, but the truth is, this year for the first time in my life as I writer I felt satisfied. In July I broke my sales record and then I broke it again in September. I won’t be promoting my work with effort for at least four months now. I don’t need to, I’ve got enough and so my focus moves back home, to supporting other authors and a little writing. Why? Because I love books, I love stories and that’s all it needs to be. More authors need to love other books too. You probably have time to write one, so you have time to read and review a few, at least. Give back, trust me, just look at the graphic I shall finish this piece with. You can near enough pin point the moment I started supporting other authors.
I’ve been promoting books again, or at least one book anyway and so here’s a breakdown of the results, methods and hopefully something a fellow author can use because we all know marketing is hard… let’s dive in…
It’s important to start with some kind of plan or at least something to aim for when it comes to promoting books. For this promotional run, my ghost story novella ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ was going to be free for a few days before and on the day of Halloween via kindle. My aim, to get as many free downloads as possible during that time.
Although this is a great way of generating many downloads, my voice alone isn’t loud enough to tell everyone so I invested in some methods listed below.
Top tip: Promoting a Ghost story over Halloween in theory is a good idea. Some genres work better during different seasons. Another example would be my super hero comedy book which always sells better in summer months (northern hemisphere) as it makes for a beach read. Have you got a Christmas themed story coming up? December is closing in. Timing is important folks…
Strategy – how was I going to do it?
As mentioned I would firstly set the price of my book to free via Kindle Direct Publishing. If your e book is enrolled in Kindle Unlimited they allow you so many days every so often to make that book free for promotional purposes. In terms of target market, because it will be free, we were aiming for everyone – free books are more of a blanket approach in terms of targeting. There are some authors who insist they’ll never make their work available for free – you’ll probably never reach a larger scale audience if you think that way, no matter how special you think that book is…
How exactly was I going to reach as many people as possible?
Book Promotion websites that offer paid advertising. Websites listed below.
Via my social media following – 4k twitter followers and 500+ blog followers and 500+ Facebook page followers.
There are many paid and free book promotion sites that do a great job in reaching readers. When running a promo I would recommend using them and in my case I spread them out over the three days the book would be free. This is also a great way of knowing which sites are effective.
Top tip: When paying for anything online make sure you use a reputable payment service such as PayPal. There are also many authors like myself who will share results highlighting who are the better sitesso remember to do your research.
As you can see nearly 2000 people downloaded the book across 9 different Amazon territories over the 3 days. Day 2 was the most popular and we even got a number 1 chart position over in the US, so let us look at the methods I used in detail.
Methods in Detail
The following things made this promo a success:
Existing Book Reviews
Let’s face it, getting book reviews is a struggle but the one’s we get help immensely when running a promo as lot’s of traffic will be passing by your book page to see them. If there are just a few reviews that will increase the chances of that book being downloaded. In my case ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ had a healthy number of reviews in both the UK and US markets. This helped.
Book Promo Sites
The engine room of this promo was the sites I invested in to advertise and tell people about the book.
You can near enough pin point which promo sites were effective. Day 1 only got a handful of downloads.
The sites I used for day 1 were:
My Book Place ($25 Feature)
Book Reader Magazine ($10)
I would most likely not use these sites for this type of promotion again. For $35 I expect a little better… lesson learned and recorded for future use…
For Day 2 which yielded the brunt of my results I used the following sites:
Hotstuff Romance Free Friday Promotion ($15)
Book Angel (Free)
Freebookshub .co.uk ($15)
Book Bongo Book Bump ($9.99) 2 Day Promo
E Book Deals Today ($9.99) 2 Day Promo
Freebooksy Paranormal Romance Deal ($99)
From the results we can gather that the Freebooksy deal which was the most expensive and probably did the most work, but combining promo sites is a great way to spread the word. My advice, if you want maximum downloads be prepared to pay for the advertising.
For Day 3 I simply relied on the two day promos alongside a blog post on here and utilizing Shameless Self Promo Saturday over on Twitter. On Day 2 and 3I also put up a post on the Facebook Page. All of these posts included this book banner.
Top Tip: Get yourself a decent book banner to share your works on. I made this myself via Pixlr but you can get a freelancer to put one together over on Fiverr for a decent price and half the time. Book Promo Banners are an essential visual. Visuals result in sales. The same also goes for a professional looking cover. People do judge books by them…
This is all combined with the fact Day 3 was also Halloween. Here’s what my Twitter post looked like:
Top Tip: When it comes to Twitter, hashtags and getting people to engage are key. You can see on this tweet above I encouraged others to drop links while also providing incentive to Retweet and follow back – incentives and having something to offer are a must for successful engagement.
Factors for Success
So how exactly did I get the results I got?
Firstly I had a plan and an aim – to get as many free downloads.
The book had some existingreviews which helped passers by notice it.
I invested money in advertising.
I implemented and used my social media following with a post that included hashtags and incentive to engage,
It was the right time for a Ghost story promo – Halloween
Book Banners helped for the visual factor along with a professional cover.
Since the promo ‘Ghost’ has already received two new reviews which is a huge result but the results for a good promotional run will last a while after with page reads being tracked via KDP and possibly further sales. Overall for a stand alone short read that has only been out 10 months at the time of promo, I’ very happy with the results. This was my last promo of the year and a good one to finish things with.
My advice for anyone looking to promo their own work is to consider the factors for success listed above and of course combine that with your own expectation as there are so many other factors that help sell books – genre, what’s happening in the news etc. This takes time and patience, if you have those things, you’ll be okay.
If you promote your books a handful of times a year there’s no doubt your readership will eventually grow. Investment is the most important thing and not giving up. Thank you for reading, there is a stack of more useful information for authoring and blogging over on the resources page. That is until next year when the self help book arrives. Peace out!
Very early into this online authoring and blogging venture I learned that the American people are decent. No mater what happens today, especially if you are an American, remember that. Politics aside, to me you have always been supportive, loyal and welcoming. As people and whether or not you know it, that’s what you truly stand for no matter who represents you in office.
Some of my greatest supporters come from the USA. Some of my better interactions on here have come from American people. Even at the very beginning when I didn’t really know what I was doing and when I first put out stories on that outlaw site called Booksie, there were supporters then who still check in now from across the pond.
Perhaps with the coming result and even before you might need to hear that. So come what may, I don’t judge anyone on their politics alone and you American folks are always welcome here, with open arms.